Heather Burke, Boston.com Correspondent
Saturday March 21, Sugarloaf’s King Pine lift experienced a rollback at 11:34am resulting in injuries to a total of 7 guests. Four of those guests were transported to Franklin Memorial Hospital with apparently non-life-threatening injuries.
The chairlift traveled backwards a distance of 9 chairs, it did not actually de-rope. Some skiers jumped off, most of the 204 guests were evacuated from the lift by Sugarloaf Ski Patrol and staff within two hours. No guests were injured during the lift evacuation process.
“Our first concern is with the guests who were injured and all of those who were impacted by the incident at the resort today,” Sugarloaf spokesman Ethan Austin said. “Our staff is working with the Tramway Board on a thorough investigation, and we are committed to understanding the full cause of the incident.”
The King Pine Quad is a 1988 fixed grip quad manufactured by Borvig, located on the eastern side of the mountain. King Pine is 3,400 feet long with a vertical of 1,074 feet. The chair moves at a speed of 450 feet per minute with 122 chairs roughly 51 feet apart.
The chairlift receives routine daily inspections for safety. A routine daily inspection of the lift this morning by Sugarloaf’s lift maintenance staff revealed no irregularities.
Additionally, the chairlift receives weekly, monthly and yearly maintenance and testing. The lift is also inspected annually by the State of Maine Board of Elevator and Tramway Safety (Tramway Board). King Pine was certified to operate by the Tramway Board on October 29, 2014 following its annual inspection and a full dynamic load test.
The lift will remain closed until the investigation is complete, according to Sugarloaf’s media advisory.
Sugarloaf experienced another chairlift incident in December of 2010 when the Spillway East chair de-roped. That lift was replaced the following season with the Skyline quad.
Sugarloaf is set to host the US Alpine Championships this week, March 25-29, with many of the best ski racers from the US Ski Team. The King Pine lift is not essential to hosting these races which occur on the Narrow Gauge trail.